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Macaroni, pasta in the form of small tubes, first found its way from Italy to Britain at the end of the sixteenth century, and in the intervening years has become thoroughly anglicized: un-Italian dishes such as macaroni cheese (mentioned as long ago as 1769 by Elizabeth Raffald in her Experienced English Housekeeper and now an unexpected Barbadian favourite; American-speakers call it macaroni and cheese) and sweet macaroni pudding made with milk have become firmly established in British cuisine. Its name has been naturalized, too: when English acquired it, it was maccaroni (a derivative ultimately of late Greek makaría ‘food made from barley’), but the spelling with one c finally became generally accepted in the nineteenth century, while in modern Italian maccheroni has superseded maccaroni.

In the second half of the eighteenth century the term was applied to a ‘fashionable dandy’, perhaps because such people were thought to have a taste for foreign food.

In Australian English, macaroni is a colloquialism for ‘nonsense’.

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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